Immigration Fact Sheet

Immigrants pay taxes.

  • The nation’s 34 million immigrants collectively pay more in taxes than they consume in public services and benefits, according to a National Research Council study. Washington Post, April 15, 2006
  • Undocumented immigrants annually pay an estimated $7 billion more than they take out into Social Security, and $1.5 billion more into Medicare. (New York Times, April 15, 2005.) A study by the National Academy of Sciences also found that tax payments generated by immigrants outweighed any costs associated with services used by immigrants.
  • All consumers, including the undocumented, pay state sales and consumption taxes when making purchases. Additionally, whether they own their own home or taxes are passed through to rents, everyone pays the same real estate taxes. The majority of state and local costs of schooling and other services are funded by these taxes.
  • The Social Security Administration has estimated that three quarters of undocumented immigrants pay payroll taxes, and they annually contribute $8.5 billion in Social Security funds that they will be unable to claim.
  • The Internal Revenue Service issues ‘Taxpayer Identification Numbers’ (ITIN) to allow undocumented workers to pay income taxes. Since 1996, 9.2 million of these numbers have been assigned. In 2005 alone, 1.2 million people paid taxes using this number. (Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2006.) At congressional hearings in July 2006, the commissioner of the IRS testified that between 1996 and 2003, undocumented immigrants paid almost $50 billion in federal taxes.
  • According to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, ITINs and conventional mortgages taken out by undocumented workers could be worth as much as $60 billion over the next five years; that is, immigrants also pay property taxes. Business Week, July 13, 2005

Immigration bolsters the workforce.

  • Immigration also has made up for population losses in some parts of the country. In New England and the Mid-Atlantic, the labor force would have declined from 1990 to 2000 without immigration, according to a report released in February by Northeastern University¡¦s Center for Labor Market Studies. Washington Post, April 15, 2006
  • According to Lewis W. Goodman, an American University expert on US-Latin American relations, “If we didn’t have [immigrant workers], we would be moving into a situation like Japan or Europe, where the populations are graying in a way that is very alarming, and endangering their productivity and endangering even their social security systems.” Associated Press, June 10, 2005

Immigration bolsters the economy.

  • Immigrants comprise approximately 15% of the United States labor force. They figure prominently in key economic sectors of the US, including agriculture, construction and services.
  • Mexicans and other people who cross the border contribute $3.3 billion annually to the San Diego economy. San Diego Union-Tribune, August 7, 2005
  • The US economy is expanding by a long-term average rate of 3.5% per year. More than one percentage point of this increase can be attributed to the increase in population through immigration. The Globalist, February 22, 2005
  • Job growth in ten US inner cities with high immigrant populations outpaced job growth in their broader metropolitan statistical areas, while the average inner city wage has grown 1.8% to $39,300 from 1995 to 2003, outpacing the average wage growth of 1.7% in metropolitan statistical areas. USA Today, November 17, 2005

Immigration is tied to economic trends.

  • California’s population growth rate is also dependent on the amount of job growth. Between 1992 and 1996, for example, during the economic recession in California, domestic migration out of California equaled 1.4 million residents. This out-migration was greater than the amount of foreign immigration into the state. While immigration in California will continue, the share of the state’s population accounted for by recent immigrants will continue to decline. The share of recent immigrants is projected to fall to 7.5% by 2020, and 7.0% by 2030. California Regional Economies Project, September 2005
  • Most population growth comes from the existing citizenry. In 2005, undocumented migrants contributed to population growth at the rate of only 3.3 for every 1000 person increment of growth. San Jose Mercury News, February 5, 2006

Immigration results from the economic displacement associated with corporate globalization.

  • Since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, more than 1.3 million small Mexican farmers have lost their lands and were forced to migrate after the Mexican market was flooded with cheap grain imports from US agricultural corporations. Los Angeles Times, January 7, 2004
  • Due to the expansion of the maquiladora sector (foreign-based companies, mainly from the US and Asia, that open factories in Mexico to take advantage of lower wages), deindustrialization had resulted in the loss of 515,000 manufacturing jobs in Mexico in the first three months of 2005 alone. Frontera Norte Sur News (a project of New Mexico State University), January 10, 2006

Culled from national news sources by Professor Justin Akers Chacon, San Diego City College, and adapted by ACLU of San Diego & Imperial Counties.